In the Footsteps of Peter Orlando Hutchinson project 2010-2013

Born in Winchester in 1810, Peter Orlando Hutchinson spent all his adult life in Sidmouth where he pursued his very diverse range of interests. His geological and archaeological observations are of immense value, but above all it is as an artist and ceaseless and devoted recorder of everything he heard and saw that he will be remembered, making his diaries an immensely valuable source for Devon landscape studies.

Hutchinson’s interests ranged from international politics to performing on the flute and French horn in public concerts in Exeter; from carving decorative stonework for the newly restored Sidmouth church to the latest method of preserving telegraph poles to name but a few.

This community heritage project aimed to raise awareness of landscape change, help conserve and enhance historical features, and continue the legacy of volunteer study and involvement in landscape heritage that has grown through the AONB Partnership. Drawing on the work of Peter Orlando Hutchinson, it provided a detailed and fascinating account of the Victorian landscape. In doing so, we hope we have created a further cultural dimension around which to promote and interpret sites and locations within and about this nationally important landscape.

Focusing largely in and around the Sid Valley, the project sought to revisit many of the historical features of the landscape that Hutchinson recorded, such as hill forts, tumuli, medieval chapels and quarries with a view to their conservation, enhancement, interpretation and public engagement therein.

The Project had three main themes which delivered the following actions

Theme 1 - To improve learning about our heritage

  • Through a series of guided walks, illustrated talks, special events, workshops and training. 
  • Making Hutchinson's diaries more readily available for study on our website.
  • By scanning Hutchinson's pictures and his unpublished Histories of Sidmouth to make them available online.
  • By organising a yearly conference featuring outside speakers and local research.
  • Working with students from Sidmouth College to monitor landscape change using POH pictures. Click here for the Fieldwork booklet (pdf 1mb) used by geography and arts students.
  • Fixed point photography - from the exact places POH painted his views (with GPS) readings.
  • Working with local museums and the Royal Albert Memorial Muesum, Exeter, to display artefacts collected by POH.
  • Mount exhibitions featuring the work of the project.

Theme 2 - To improve access and interpretation of our heritage

Working with landowners and in close liaison with English Heritage and Devon Historic Environment Service, and aided by our volunteers, we have been involved with the following sites:

  • Farway Castle
  • East Hill
  • Berry Camp
  • Seven Stones
  • Broad Down
  • Gittisham Hill
  • Littlecombe shoot prehistoric field system
  • High Peak enclosure
  • Blackbury Camp
  • Salcombe Hill

Interactive on-line trail An interactive 'archaeology trail' which aims to bring you closer to the archaeology and history of the AONB landscape has been created by the project and can be seen here. This virtual trail allows you to visit the above sites through the medium of the web and learn more about their history.

Theme 3 - Helping people to take an active part in their local heritage

  • Organising work parties so that local people can help clear scrub from ancient sites .
  • Giving people archaeological field walking opportunities and experience.
  • Facilitating local people to lead walks about their heritage.
  • Providing training opportunities and surveying and excavation experience.
  • Transcribing documents and compiling indexes.
  • Working with local and professional artists to revisit Hutchinson's iconic views.

For more information and publications see below


Contact Us

East Devon AONB Partnership
Kennaway House
Coburg Road, Sidmouth
EX10 8NG

Tel: 01404 46663

Email : info@eastdevonaonb.org.uk

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'In the Footsteps of Peter Orlando Hutchinson' project outputs

An introductory leaflet to 'In the Footsteps of Peter Orlando Hutchinson' (pdf)

A summary of our Peter Orlando Hutchinson Year 1 achievements (pdf)

A summary of our Peter Orlando Hutchinson Year 2 achievements (pdf)

The final report and assessment of 'In the Footsteps of Peter Orlando Hutchinson'project ( pdf )

In the Footsteps of Peter Orlando Hutchinson (2010-2013) has been delivered by the East Devon AONB Partnership on behalf of and with the financial support of Defra, Devon County Council, East Devon District Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund (Your Heritage) and the Sid Vale Association's Keith Owen Trust Fund.


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